Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma awarded the 2024 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission

NGV Christien Meindertsma photo by Negin ZendeganiThe National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has announced Netherlands-based designer and innovator Christien Meindertsma as the recipient of the 2024 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, a major series inviting globally renowned female designers to create groundbreaking new work for the NGV Collection.

Meindertsma is the third recipient of the annual, five-year commission series, which has been made possible by a significant contribution from MECCA’s social change movement, M-POWER.

The first and only commission series of its kind in Australia, the annual commission creates a platform to present topical, world-premiere works of international significance to highlight the contributions and practices of female designers to the world.

Renowned for her game-changing approach to material innovation – with a philosophy that there is no such thing as waste, Meindertsma hopes to highlight the opportunity to embrace a new material era.

By investigating the production and application of everyday materials, such as flax, porcelain and wool, she draws attention to ways in which materials can be rethought, or for waste to be treated as a valuable design resource.

For the 2024 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, Meindertsma will focus her attention on wool as a material deeply enmeshed in human culture that may offer the potential for design and industrial applications never before imagined.

With the global market for wool dominated by fine yarn varieties such as Merino, vast quantities of more coarse wool traditionally grown in Europe have to date been seen as unusable and is simply being discarded.

Revealed in October 2024, the new commission will take the form of a large-scale installation, allowing Meindertsma to produce her most ambitious project to date.

Using a cutting-edge new 3D printing technology developed in partnership with Netherlands-based start-up company Tools for Technology, Meindertsma’s structure will reimagine wool, creating a new dynamic, 3D-printable super-material.

Meindertsma’s global reputation of a designer who redesigns materials will be further enhanced by this commission.

Over the past two decades, the visionary designer has predominantly produced objects, textile and furniture works exploring wide-ranging subjects such as animal by-products, household and textile waste, and forestry.

The designer’s previous work includes One sheep sweater where Meindertsma produced twenty sweaters from the coats of individual merino sheep, the multi award-winning Flax Chair which is an innovative, sustainable and biodegradable piece of furniture made from a now rarely used material, and the book PIG 05049 which documented all of the products made from a single pig.

Meindertsma has won three Dutch Design Awards; and has work held in permanent collections including MoMA (New York), The Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and the Vitra Design Museum (Weil am Rein).

“We are delighted to announce Christien Meindertsma as the latest recipient of the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission; an inspiring designer who is developing ground-breaking methods of production to revolutionise the global wool industry,” said Tony Ellwood AM, Director, NGV.

“The NGV is incredibly grateful to MECCA for their support of this design series which provides a vital platform to profile female designers,” said Ellwood.

Christien Meindertsma is not only reshaping industries but also inspiring women to redefine the boundaries of design. Christien invites us to explore, question and even reinvent the world around us,” said Jo Horgan AM, Founder & Co-CEO MECCA.

“An ethos we share at MECCA M-POWER, our social change initiative that seeks to make the world over, by dismantling the systems and narratives that hold women and girls back from being their best,” said Horgan.

“I feel very honoured to have been awarded this commission and am very much looking forward to making a new work,” said Christien Meindertsma. “This opportunity will allow me to explore and push the possibilities of wool as a strong and at the same time soft material, in directions it has not gone before.”

Celebrating the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission and 2024 designer Christien Meindertsma, NGV hosts a day of free programs on Saturday 9 March, including insightful conversations, a drop-by workshop, and more.

In the NGV’s Great Hall, Meindertsma joins Jo Horgan AM in person, as well as previous recipients Bethan Laura Wood and Tatiana Bilbao live via video link in conversation about the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission.

NGV will also host a free interactive workshop inspired by Meindertsma’s material practice where visitors can learn to felt their own miniature woollen lamb.

In 2023, London-based designer Bethan Laura Wood presented the MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission, an installation titled Kaleidoscope-o-rama, consisting of two new major works conceived in dialogue with Regency era (c. 1811–20) works from the NGV Collection and presented among an immersive audio-visual display. Wood’s work is on display as part of NGV Triennial at NGV International until 7 April 2024.

The 2024 MECCA x NGV Women in Design Commission will be on display from 4 October 2024 – February 2025 at NGV International, St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Free entry. For more information, visit: www.ngv.melbourne for details.

Image: Christien Meindertsma – photo by Negin Zendegani